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A DEPOSED Catalan minister who has been in jail without trial for four months is spending his days reading in a freezing cell without heat or hot water.
Joaquim Forn, who was sacked as Interior Minister when Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy implemented direct rule after the October 1 independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence, spelled out the details in a letter to his sister Marta and brother-in-law Alejandro Scherk.
Forn is facing possible charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds and, along with sacked vice president Oriol Junqueras, is being held in Madrid’s Estremera prison, despite resigning as a minister and an MP.
His family told the National: “He is fine although he has spent some days with no heat neither hot water in a very cold environment.
“He has lost some weight and reads a lot. But we are afraid this will be for long. The judge doesn’t want to jail anybody else although the general attorney thinks otherwise.
“We keep waiting for declarations and circumstances.”
The couple have also launched a campaign to unite people who believe in democracy and to publicise his plight.
“Record a brief video of yourself where you express the main message of this campaign: ‘Supporting Catalan Independence is not a crime’ and post it to social media using the hashtag #IndependènciaNoÉsDelicte. Help us spread the word!” they told The National.
The couple are urging people who post a video to share it online through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as resending it to private contacts through encrypted messaging apps. They added: “The campaign [is] to bring together all the people who believe in democracy, regardless of whether they support independence or not.”
It came as the board that runs the Catalan Parliament considers if the law can be changed to allow deposed president Carles Puigdemont to be sworn in remotely from Brussels.
The move was launched by his Together for Catalonia (JxCat) party earlier this month but will be considered by the parliamentary bureau today. Puigdemont has been in exile in the Belgian capital since October and is the only candidate nominated for the presidency.
Spain’s Constitutional Court has still to rule of the legality of such a move, but JxCat and the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) – who have a majority on the board – have urged the reform.
It proposes that the presidential candidate can authorise the investiture debate without personal “presence or intervention”.
The move also seeks to amend the law to allow the government to “constitute, convene, hold their sessions, adopt agreements and send minutes both in person and remotely”, which would enable Puigdemont to run the executive from Brussels.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Judge Pablo Llarena has released on bail of €60,000 (£53,000) ERC number two Marta Rovira, who is being investigated for her role in the referendum. He said there was a risk of her reoffending.
Marta Pascal, Rovira’s opposite number in the pro-indy Democratic Party of Catalonia (PDeCAT) was freed without bail or conditions.
In court, both described the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) as “a political demonstration without legal effects”, and the only objective of which was to trigger an electoral process.